On January 8th, 1980 newly elected International President Robert Goss called a nationwide strike against the oil
industry. Because profits for the oil industry were skyrocketing, and the union accepted a lesser raise previously due
to U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s 7% anti-inflation lid, the union now wanted a substantial wage increase over the two
year package along with a dental plan, plus an improvement in the vacation language. The oil companies were willing to
move but not as far as the union wanted so the union, nationwide, hit the bricks. Locally, our membership voted 86%
yes in favor of striking.
Walter Von Wald was our assigned International Representative, with Tom Burkholder assisting him. The Texaco committee
was made up of: Darrell Hudson, chair, Vern Beirness, Rick Latham, Bob Owings and Bob Mason. Shell’s committee was
chaired by Wynn Callahan, along with, Darrell Graves, Jim Vannice, J.B. Bartleson and Don Parnell. The Local’s
President was Frank Mann with Don Yates as our Financial Secretary.24-hour pickets were set up immediately. A
comprehensive picket shift schedule was put together. Picket pay was $25 a week. The brothers at Allied Chemical
assessed their dues an extra $20 a week to help support the effort. The local’s secretary, Bonnie Riley took voluntary
lay off and donated her time to the union for free.Early strike support came from the Skagit San Juan Central
Labor Council and from the Teamster’s Union Local 411 out of Mount Vernon.
Both companies started sending numerous propaganda letters to their employees that were obviously biased in an attempt
to weaken the membership. Everyone’s resolve remained strong and no one crossed.
Early into the dispute, Shell decided to take the stance that 80% of the $119,000 medical reserve belonged to them and
they wouldn’t agree to let it be used to pay medical claims for the duration of the dispute even though the surplus
was created by increases from the hourly employees. The Shell Medical committee worked out an agreement with Skagit
Medical which would allow their members to defer payment for three months but then the deferred payments would have to
be paid in double at the termination of the strike.
On March 23rd, Ken Kribs while legally picketing, was thrown onto the hood of Texaco Plant Manager Phil Templeton’s
car when he romped on the gas as Ken walked in front of him. Templeton then purposefully and viciously accelerated his
car for the next 240 feet, then slammed on his brakes attempting to launch Kribs from his hood. The union immediately
called the Sheriff’s department. After assessing the incident, Templeton was charged with 2nd degree assault with a
deadly weapon. Later at trial, Templeton pled guilty, was fined, put on six months probation and was ordered to
perform community service work. Shortly there after, Texaco replaced him with Coleman Ferguson.
On March 22nd, Shell offered the "National Pattern" and the Shell members voted to accept 79 for with 66 against. They
were back to work the following day minus J. D. Franulovic who had received a 5-day suspension. Shell also informed
the union that Paul Metcalf was going to receive an "unsatisfactory work report" in his fileBecause settlement
talks were going nowhere, federal mediator Ben Youtsey was called in on March 29th to help facilitate negotiations
between Texaco and the union. Their best offer to date was a "me-too" that was rejected earlier in the strike at all
Texaco locations.All through the dispute Texaco disciplined quite a few members for picket line misbehavior,
with the most severe being Bill Fischer, who was fired for busting out a back hoe window. These became a stumbling
block to the settlement because Texaco refused to discuss them. The union’s contention was that not all were guilty of
what they were accused of, albeit some were.
At last, on April 12th, Texaco offered the "National Pattern". The membership voted to accept after the company agreed
to reduce Fischer’s termination to 60 calendar days. The union also got the company to reduce Butch Loesch’s from 90
to 30 days, Larry Brinson’s from 60 to 30 days, Jim Johnson’s from 14 to 7 days but they wouldn’t reduce the 14 day
suspensions of Tom Livey, Ron Van Luven, Roy Smith or Bill Didway. On April 16th, the strike ended for the Texaco
unit.The gains won nationally by the union were a 5% pay raise, plus an additional 52 cents for the first year
with a 10.5% pay raise the second year. And for the first time a dental plan. The union also won a extra week of
vacation for employees with 30 years of service. The companies however, were able to negotiate a pay freeze for
laborers hired after January 8, 1981.